Apple started selling the iPhone 5 in India through specialised distributors and carriers from the 2nd of this month, and today The Wall Street Journal reports that most retailers have already sold out their initial stock.
Citing undisclosed sources, WSJ says that the country received around 10,000 − 15,000 units of the iPhone 5 in its initial round of shipments, indicative either of Apple’s low expectations for the country or the constrained supply of the device.
Unlike other countries, Apple isn’t directly selling the iPhone to customers in India due to strict government regulations, and has instead partnered with specialised distribution firms and carriers. Many retailers unofficially started taking pre-orders a few days before the November 2nd launch, and exhausted most of their supplies on launch day itself:
“We were sold out within 24 hours of launch. It’s all gone,” said Himanshu Chakrawarti, chief executive of The MobileStore Ltd., a retailer that stocks iPhones that has 900 outlets across India.
“We are stocked out within the first couple of days of the launch,” said a spokesman for Aircel Ltd., one of two service provider partners for Apple in India.
A spokesman for Bharti Airtel, another telecom provider that partnered with Apple to distribute iPhones, said the company saw a 78% jump in preorders for iPhone 5s compared with the previous version of iPhone.
Satish Babu, founder and managing director of Chennai-based UniverCell, which runs 450 retail outlets in southern India, says his company sold all the 1,000 iPhone 5 units it had within two days.
Indian e-commerce sites seem to be out of stock as well. Indiatimes shopping shows 20 days shipping time for the black 16GB iPhone 5, while listing the white model as out of stock. Higher capacity models are shown as “coming soon.” Similarly, SnapDeal, another popular e-commerce site in India shows both, white and black models of the 16GB iPhone 5 as sold out.
Retailers are already taking pre-orders for the next round of iPhone 5 stock, expected to be available by the end of this week. Analysts estimate that Apple will be shipping 200,000 iPhone 5 units to India by he end of December.
Previously, Apple only partnered with carriers for selling the iPhone 5, and only this time has it roped in specialised distributors Ingram Micro and Redington, which have a wide network of retailers. This, coupled with the upcoming Diwali festive season in India, is largely responsible for the high demand of the iPhone 5 in the country, despite its high starting price of ₹45,500 ($834).